the thinker

Anonymous, Former LDS Church employee

This web page is dedicated to the story of one of our readers, a former LDS Church employee.

My Story

I grew up my whole life attending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Raised in a small ward outside of Utah, I spent most of my youth as the de-facto quorum president in my Aaronic Priesthood quorum or assistant to the bishop in the case of the priests' quorum. I went on a mission and later attended "the Lord's University." I married my beautiful wife in the temple. All these things I went through and my faith stood firm. This changed after years of working with online content for the Church.

From the start, working for the Church, there were things that seemed odd to me, but nothing that really shook my faith. Odd things about transparency; for example, in a meeting about employee benefits a question was asked why benefits were handled a certain way that seemed cumbersome. The response was "Otherwise we would have to open our books to the government and that is never going to happen." Another time, a colleague who knew more than I did, mentioned that a quick way to get excommunicated was to try and access a certain datacenter. After he realized others didn't know what he was talking about, he went silent. Out of curiosity I looked up the datacenter on the internal network and all that I could find was that the datacenter sat in the Church History Library, everything on it was locked down.

When I first started working for the Church I realized there was going to be some aspect of politics there; it was a corporation after all. Although I was mostly shielded from that aspect, I found it odd, that general authorities seemed to feel such high pressure to always be right. For example, once a general authority forgot to invite a group to an event celebrating that we reached a significant goal. It was a mistake that seemed simple to make and something easily forgiven, but the general authority, rather than apologizing, felt he needed to explain that the Lord wanted this to happen and there was a lesson in it for the group (which lesson he left out and expected come to a knowledge of that purpose on their own). The general authority's reasoning was that the Lord doesn't allow mistakes in His work. Hearing statements like that time and again were probably part of my later crisis of faith.

When things really came into question for me was when the recent essays by the Church were brought to my attention through the work that I did. There was a desire at the Church to somehow keep the essays from being stumbled across on the website: unless someone was specifically looking for the content contained within the essays, they didn't want the essays to turn up in the search results. I quickly saw why, as these essays opened more questions than they answered. Given what I had been taught all my life about the doctrine and history of the Church until that point in my life, how could I take lightly that the Church was admitting that Brigham Young managed to mingle a philosophy of man from his time period (racism) with scripture? Looking up the source from which Brigham Young was quoted in the essay, how was I supposed to feel seeing that they took that quote completely out of context and that Brigham Young invoked his title as prophet while saying the things he did? Brigham Young stated that the priesthood would reach every worthy man after the resurrection, not before. Knowing that postings to this particular part of needed First Presidency approval given that it was the online equivalent to the True to Faith manual, could the First Presidency have been deceived?

This brought me to look more closely at the doctrines of the Church for myself. I was determined to know if it was true and to only seek out content available on Church owned sites. After compiling information, I determined that there were too many contradictions for it make any sense that God led the LDS Church as directly as the Church claims. For example, Doctrine & Covenants 45:9-10 the Lord promises that He would show unto men His strong reasoning. In a PBS documentary Elder Oaks makes the claim that it is near impossible to put reason to revelation. Is the Doctrine and Covenants false then? Or does an apostle called by the Lord not know how revelation works? Contradictions like this continued to pop up and in the end I came to the conclusion that the LDS Church isn't led directly by God as they claim. I couldn't, in good conscience, continue to outsource my morality to that organization.

I struggled with this conclusion for a while, given that I felt I previously had a very strong testimony of the LDS Church. How could that be explained? I finally realized that what is often called testimony in a religious context is actually conviction. When looking to the story of Saul in the New Testament it makes much more sense. Saul had such a strong conviction in Judaism that he was even willing to see Christians put to death. When Saul saw the resurrected Savior and became Paul, what value was his previous conviction to him then?

The LDS Church makes indirect claims through their I'm a Mormon campaign that Mormonism allows for diversity among its members, including feminists, etc. How does it fit then that a woman is excommunicated from the Church for being a feminist? Do they believe that feminism, as they believe with homosexuality, can be a part of someone, but is not something the person should act on? How does that align with the doctrine around integrity, where someone should always act true to his or her character?

My final days working for the LDS Church were stressful as I sought out new employment. I felt as if I were working for the Ministry of Truth from Orwell's 1984. Instead of burning papers, I helped to deliver their rewrite of Church history over the digital medium. Making me even more uneasy, before I left they had begun a tactic to attempt to group site traffic statistics into buckets of 'stalwart', 'show-and-go', etc. by somehow labeling site visitors. Talks about incorporating this bucketing into their future goals of site personalization were even made.

I encourage you to seek out the truth for yourself with an open mind and heart, not holding on to your preconceived ideas. Approach the LDS Church again as if investigating, but with all the added knowledge you've gained about the LDS Church since you first joined. Some will say that I'm "anti-Mormon" as I seek to share what I know. That is very unfortunate since my faith and views rely on the LDS Church being false no more or less than the LDS Church's faith relies on the apostasy of Catholics and other Christian religions. I just want to share the truth I have come to see, a desire ingrained in me from the way I was raised as a Mormon.